Are Olympic Lifts Really Important? - AnabolicMinds.com
    • Are Olympic Lifts Really Important?



      by Erick Minor T-Nation

      Here's what you need to know...

      To be fast, you must practice the activity at which you want to be fast.

      The momentum and technique requirements of the O-lifts make them sub-optimal choices for building maximum muscle.

      If you love the Olympic lifts or compete in Olympic lifting, then have at it.

      Many coaches believe that building explosive lower-body power requires performing Olympic lift variations such as the power clean and power snatch. The theory goes that the O-lifts improve rate-of-force development, which transfers to similar movements in the athlete's chosen sport.

      I say it's not true.

      Power, on a neurological level, is a specific skill, one enhanced through specific practice and coaching. And the only training that develops the raw material that can be molded for this specific practice is good old strength training.

      Specific Speed

      To be fast, you must practice the activity at which you want to be fast. Lifting fast or explosively has very little to do with how fast you run, jump, or throw on the track or field.

      Any performance transfer that does occur from the Olympic lift variations is due to the strength gains achieved from lifting heavy loads, not enhanced rate-of-force development. In other words, Olympic lifting won't make you any more explosive than slower tempo, high-intensity strength training.

      Olympic Lifts for Non-Olympic Lifters?

      For those thinking, "He doesn't like Olympic lifts because he's never used them," you're wrong. After completing my Sports Performance Coaching certification at the Olympic training center in Colorado Springs, I spent a full year applying Olympic lifting protocols with various athletes.

      After that yearlong experiment, I concluded that these lifts added no benefit to a well-designed strength program. Not to mention the risk of injury was greater compared to traditional strength moves, which isn't an option for my professional and Olympic athletes.

      The problem with the power clean and power snatch is that the training stimulus is dissipated compared to more isolated, so-called "non-functional" movements.

      According to Dr. Doug McGuff, "Your body would much rather have five muscle groups contributing 20 percent of their energy capacity to an activity than have any one muscle group contributing 100 percent, so you're playing into the conservation-of-energy preference of your genome."

      This conservation of energy is important when competing or practicing your specific skill, but when strength training, this is inefficient. I often ask my athletes, "If I could make your posterior chain (hamstrings, glutes, low back) 25% stronger, do you believe you would run faster?" All of them intuitively know the answer is yes.

      Your nervous system is extremely capable of organizing and applying increases in strength. Think of the first time you put on a weight belt and did squats. You were immediately stronger; you could probably do 5-10% more weight.

      You didn't need to practice with the belt because your nervous system sensed an increase in stability in the area, which allowed you to produce more force with the surrounding musculature. In short, a well designed, moderate to slow tempo strength program will deliver better results with greater transfer than any Olympic lifting program.

      The following sample leg program will recruit and strengthen a large pool of muscle fibers, which will transfer over to your sports activity.

      Repetition Tempos

      The program contains the following two techniques:

      1. Compensatory Acceleration (CAT) is an effective way to increase muscle fiber tension and recruitment. On each rep, push or pull as fast and as hard as possible regardless of the weight. The weight may not appear to move fast, but the intent to move the load rapidly is the goal.

      I recommend a controlled transition between the eccentric and concentric phase of each rep. Don't bounce or jerk the weight.

      2. Continuous Tension (Con-Ten) repetitions are performed in a non-stop tempo. You keep the weight moving through the concentric and eccentric phase of the repetition. Don't rest the load at any point.

      Monday
      Exercise Sets Reps Rest
      A1 Barbell Back Squat (CAT) 3-4 4-6 10 sec.
      A2 Alternating Dumbbell Drop Lunge (CAT) 3-4 6-8* 10 sec.
      Step off a 4-6 inch platform, push back explosively.
      A3 Jump Squat (CAT)** 3-4 10-12 3 min.
      B1 Supine One Leg Hip Flexion (Con-Ten) 2-3 10-12* 10 sec.
      Add 5-20 pound ankle weight for resistance.
      B2 Russian Step-Up, Barbell (CAT) 2-3 8-10* 90 sec.
      C1 Donkey Calf Raise (Con-Ten) 3-4 15-20 30 sec.
      C2 Dumbbell Side Flexion (Con-Ten) 3-4 10-12 30 sec.
      * per leg
      ** Perform in a non-stop fashion.

      Thursday
      Exercise Sets Reps Rest
      A1 Podium Deadlift (CAT) 3-4 4-6 10 sec.
      A2 Glute-Ham Raise (CAT) 3-4 6-8 10 sec.
      A3 Kettlebell Swing, Wide Stance (CAT) 3-4 10-12 3 min.
      B1 Single-Leg Curl (Con-Ten) 2-3 8-10* 10 sec.
      B2 Single-Leg Romanian Deadlift (Con-Ten) 2-3 10-12 90 sec.
      C1 Cable Pull-Through (Con-Ten) 2-3 15-20 10 sec.
      C2 Hanging Leg Raise (Con-Ten) 2-3 AMAP** 1 min.
      * per leg
      ** As Many As Possible.

      More Power to You

      I'm not saying you shouldn't perform the Olympic lifts you just don't need to. So if you have an emotional attachment or just love doing them, certainly keep on. But the old school dogma "if you want to be explosive, you gotta do power cleans" is incorrect.

      Source: http://www.t-nation.com/training/do-...-olympic-lifts
      Comments 24 Comments
      1. sanguine's Avatar
        sanguine -
        I dont play sports so I cant speak to that, but I find olympic lifts have great benefits as far as physique/aesthetics go.

        Not to mention the fact that doing them is both exciting and scientific at the same time.
      1. Wrivest's Avatar
        Wrivest -
        This article sounds like it was written by a dude who just didn't like, or didn't know how to use Oly lifts correctly
      1. Callejul's Avatar
        Callejul -
        Bump for opinions
      1. jbryand101b's Avatar
        jbryand101b -
        Power = strength, but strength doesn't equal power.

        You want to be stronger AND faster, you have to train for it.

        And you don't see any flabby Olympic lifters.
        Can't say the same for power lifters (which should be called strength lifting)
      1. ITW's Avatar
        ITW -
        Originally Posted by jbryand101b View Post
        And you don't see any flabby Olympic lifters.
        Yes you do. Look at the higher weight classes?
      1. Wrivest's Avatar
        Wrivest -
        Originally Posted by ITW View Post
        Yes you do. Look at the higher weight classes?
        true! Just look at the current record holder. Dude is fat as all hell!! Although it does seem rare in the lower weight classes
      1. jbryand101b's Avatar
        jbryand101b -
        Originally Posted by ITW View Post

        Yes you do. Look at the higher weight classes?
        Really? How many fat guys you see on the rings?
      1. ITW's Avatar
        ITW -
        Originally Posted by jbryand101b View Post
        Really? How many fat guys you see on the rings?
        None. But now you're being ridiculous.
      1. Sean1332's Avatar
        Sean1332 -
        Originally Posted by jbryand101b View Post
        Really? How many fat guys you see on the rings?
        Look at some of the top powerlifters (excluding the 308's +) and they all have some pretty lean physiques. I've seen some chubbies in the Olympics.

        http://jtsstrength.com/articles/2013...-bodybuilding/

        Goes both ways
      1. ITW's Avatar
        ITW -
        Originally Posted by Sean1332 View Post
        Look at some of the top powerlifters (excluding the 308's +) and they all have some pretty lean physiques.
        Dan green, looking sick haha
      1. Wrivest's Avatar
        Wrivest -
        Originally Posted by jbryand101b View Post
        Really? How many fat guys you see on the rings?
        nobody said anything about gymnasts, he was talking about Oly lifters, of which you have both lean and fat guys.
      1. jbryand101b's Avatar
        jbryand101b -
        Oleksiy Torokhtiy 2012 Olympic weight lifting heavyweight gold medalist,

        Doesn't look hefty to me.
      1. ITW's Avatar
        ITW -
        Originally Posted by jbryand101b View Post
        Oleksiy Torokhtiy 2012 Olympic weight lifting heavyweight gold medalist, Doesn't look hefty to me.
        He's like 229lbs. And the picture above is of a 221 powerlifter. Who's leaner?

        Also refer to wrivest's above post
      1. latman88's Avatar
        latman88 -
        All you crossfit people are obviously taking offence, did you not read he is certified in several different areas including Olympic lifting and did a year long incorporation with his OLYMPIC athletes so just read, educate yourself and apply the knowledge and perhaps you will one day add muscle to that 160 "aesthetic" frame you got from crossfit.
      1. zcol94's Avatar
        zcol94 -
        I don't know... Throughout high school football I saw a direct correlation between my 40 time and my power clean, If I slacked on my cleans and the weight went down my 40 got worse If my clean went up my 40 got better
      1. forcefedfreak's Avatar
        forcefedfreak -
        Talk about lazy writing...
        We have no idea what kind of athletes you were using snatch and C&J variations with
        You didn't tell us how they were using them
        We don't know if you were even teaching them properly

        There are a lot more reasons than just speed to incorporate Weightlifting techniques, such as
        increased strength
        timing
        flexibility
        power
        body awareness
        etc...

        For sure there are sports that Weightlifting isn't very practical (particularly sports that are big on rotational power) but for most, they are invaluable, and it has been my experience that coaches that denounce them simply suck at teaching them and are intimidated by them. Working with Olympic level athletes does not mean anything in relation to being a useful coach of Weightlifting techniques. I would like to see some footage of people you've coached in regards to snatch and C&J because I have a feeling they won't be very good. And to say that Weightlifting won't help your jumping ability is laughing at best.

        I also enjoyed the opening statement about the "momentum of Olympic lifting' makes it suboptimal...Where do you think the momentum came from? Your body generated it...
      1. ITW's Avatar
        ITW -
        Originally Posted by forcefedfreak View Post
        Talk about lazy writing... We have no idea what kind of athletes you were using snatch and C&J variations with You didn't tell us how they were using them We don't know if you were even teaching them properly There are a lot more reasons than just speed to incorporate Weightlifting techniques, such as increased strength timing flexibility power body awareness etc... For sure there are sports that Weightlifting isn't very practical (particularly sports that are big on rotational power) but for most, they are invaluable, and it has been my experience that coaches that denounce them simply suck at teaching them and are intimidated by them. Working with Olympic level athletes does not mean anything in relation to being a useful coach of Weightlifting techniques. I would like to see some footage of people you've coached in regards to snatch and C&J because I have a feeling they won't be very good. And to say that Weightlifting won't help your jumping ability is laughing at best. I also enjoyed the opening statement about the "momentum of Olympic lifting' makes it suboptimal...Where do you think the momentum came from? Your body generated it...
        ...Unsubbing
      1. FL3X MAGNUM's Avatar
        FL3X MAGNUM -
        I see no point in incorporating Olympic lifts into bodybuilding. If you like doing it, then do it.
        That's what I got out of this article.
        I don't waste my time with oly lifts. I want to protect my body so I can get hooge :)
      1. MANotaur's Avatar
        MANotaur -
        I do dead lifts...

        and I would like to see any of those powerlifters, olympic lifters, or jbryand do a cockpushup!

        ^^
        Cockpushup=real measure of strength and manliness
      1. Wrivest's Avatar
        Wrivest -
        I do cck push-ups, but I half rep....it's not my fault, I don't wanna talk about it anymore

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